Appendix A Amplifying Questions
Bridge owners in Europe and the United States depend on data from their respective bridge inspection programs to identify the condition of their bridges. Assuring the quality and relevancy of the data collected is extremely important to maintaining a high level of safety for the traveling public, ensuring effective use of limited funds, and helping bridge owners achieve their safety, reliability, and mobility goals. Better knowledge of quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) programs and data types collected by advanced countries would provide meaningful advice to our transportation community. To this end, the U.S. team has an interest in obtaining information on how quality is assured in other nations' bridge inspection programs. In particular, the team would like to observe how quality standards are maintained the following ways:
- By understanding laws, regulations, and standards governing bridge inspection
- By observing a routine inspection of a highway bridge
- By viewing any specialized equipment used for inspection
- In documentation of the results of the inspection
- Through inspector training and recertification
The scanning study team wishes to build on the information obtained during the 2003 bridge management and preservation scanning study and the subsequent National Cooperative Highway Research Program questionnaire sent to selected countries. We hope to accomplish that by focusing on specific questions listed in the six topics below.
Topic #1: Organizational Structure and Background
- Are there any laws or regulations that relate to inspection of highway structures or bridge safety? If so, what is the definition of a bridge and other highway structures covered by these regulations?
- Are national standards, procedures, manuals, or guides governing data collection available?
- How and at what level in an agency are the data collected, stored, managed, and maintained? How often are data updated? What data are used to initiate maintenance, operations, funding levels, or other actions by the agency?
- Who owns highway structures in your jurisdiction and what are their responsibilities for the overall safety of the public who use your bridges? Please provide statistics on your inventory, if possible.
- How are inspectors or crews organized to perform the work? Is bridge inspection the only function performed by qualified individuals, or are other duties performed as part of their job?
- What do you consider your best practices in bridge inspection?
- What data are maintained on bridge or bridge component failures?
Topic #2: Inspection Data
- What different types of inspections are performed? What requirements exist for special inspections and what might they be?
- What frequency and to what detail are inspections required to be performed? What is the basis for the inspection frequency?
- What types and quantity of data items are collected and maintained? To what detail are the data collected? Are data collected beyond the requirements of laws and regulations, and what might that data be? Are the data numeric or descriptive?
- What are the data used for? Are the inspection data integrated into a bridge management system for managing a maintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement program? Are they used on a network basis?
- Do your regulations require safe load rating capacity of these structures? Are the data used for load posting, permitting, and controlling movements of nonstandard-size or -weight vehicles? What is the maximum unrestricted legal load?
- Have standard data items, collected during field inspections, been added or eliminated? For what reason? How frequently does this occur?
Topic #3: Personnel Qualifications
- Are inspection personnel formally certified? Are educational and physical qualifications required of inspection personnel? Are there requalification requirements? Who sets these requirements?
- Is there a career track for inspection personnel? What are the different levels of certification for inspectors, team leaders, and managers? Are there different requirements for inspectors employed by private firms?
- What special qualification requirements are there for those who perform unique inspections, such as underwater or fracture critical member inspections? (Fracture critical members (FCM) are defined as steel members in tension, or with a tension element, whose failure would probably cause a portion of or the entire bridge to collapse.)
- How are qualifications tracked and verified? How are qualifications of private firm personnel tracked and verified?
- To what extent is testing of inspectors required (e.g., exams, field demonstration of skills, performance testing, use of reference bridges, etc.)?
- Is the inspector's performance tracked? Are incentives or corrective actions initiated based on job performance?
Topic #4: Process Control
- Are procedures documented in a procedures manual readily available to inspection personnel? Is there a specific procedures manual governing requirements for conducting the inspection? How often are the procedures updated? Are the QA/QC measures documented in a manual?
- What manuals exist that define ratings and/or condition states? How are condition ratings calibrated to ensure all inspection teams have the same understanding of the definition of ratings and existing condition states?
- How are updates to procedures and manuals disseminated to inspectors?
- How is QC/QA applied to bridge inspection procedures, training, manuals, reports, and data?
- Is there a process for reinspecting a sampling of bridges? If so, what is that process?
- What role does your central ministry have in the process of insuring quality?
- What processes are used to ensure data quality? Are automated data checks used? Are there any governmental regulations governing the data?
- How soon after an inspection are data available for use in other processes?
- What is the process for addressing critical issues found in the field?
Topic #5: Equipment
- What types of equipment are used to access the structure and its components and to conduct the inspection?
- What training is provided to ensure proper use of this equipment?
- Is any nondestructive evaluation, nondestructive testing, or other advanced testing equipment available? What special requirements are associated with its employment (e.g., certification, equipment maintenance and calibration)?
- Are remote monitoring technologies used to any extent (i.e., scour monitoring, strain gauges, tilt sensors, etc.)?
- Are there employee occupational safety or environmental requirements governing inspection operations and locations? How do they affect inspection quality?
- What specialized equipment, if any, is used to record data and document the results of the inspection?
Topic #6: Documentation
- What information is documented during inspections?
- Are standard forms and report formats required?
- ow is the accuracy of the documentation verified?
- How extensively are sketches and photographs used?
- How are documents submitted, approved, and maintained? Are automated document handling processes used?
- How are actions initiated because of inspection activities reported and recorded? How are completions of such actions reported and recorded?
- Are other activities, such as maintenance, traffic, and capital investment, integrated into bridge inspection records?
- How long are records kept?
- Is access to the data and documentation controlled or open to the public or other public agencies?